DELCOR – The New Dimension in Corrosion Testing

DLECOR is the latest innovation from ORONTEC. Corrosion test panels can be scanned in less than a minute by ORONTEC’s newly developed sensor technology without destroying the surface. The result is a report in accordance with DIN EN ISO 4628-8. The device is very easy to operate and fits on any laboratory bench. Here are the most important facts at a glance:

  • Small, compact and cost-effective device
  • Dimensions: 320 x 400 x 500 x mm, 8 kg
  • 110 – 240 Volt connection, as well as Ethernet for connection to a PC
  • Autonomous measurements possible without PC
  • Time for one measurement < 1 minute
  • Measuring principle: thermography – therefore non-destructive
  • Significant load reduction of corrosion test chambers by reuse of test panels
  • Panels can be tested directly after scribing (has scribing already delaminated more than intended?)
  • Significant efficiency improvement of the laboratory staff by automation of the measurement

The DELCOR is the ideal instrument for faster, digitalized and sustainable corrosion testing. Join us at the European Coatings Show (Hall 4, Booth 171), where you can see the instrument live – and even win one. Take part in our raffle by registering here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Skills shortage – ORONTEC can help!

We know about the shortage of skilled workers. But if we take a look behind the scenes in the various paint laboratories, or at the partially outdated testing equipment, we don’t wonder why specialists have to have a thick skin in order to struggle with the adversities on a daily basis.

Viscosity measurement with rubber gloves and stopwatch. Ten-finger interface to transfer data from semi-digital devices. Measuring piles of test panels with hand-held measuring devices, preferably after work because there is still time after e-mails.

This has to stop. If we wear out skilled workers with nonsensical work, we shouldn’t be surprised if no one wants to take their place.

Our offer: Digitize and optimize your lab with us. We can optimize processes, digitize equipment and automate much more than you think – at affordable prices.

We are convinced that small steps are better here than solutions that are too big, which in the end just eat up money and don’t take the employees with them either.

For example liquid paint color measurement with the Q-Chain® LCM: Instead of spending hours on draw-downs, drying, hand-measuring, and data transfer, precise color information can be obtained digitally in just a few minutes.

Or take Q-Chain® SuMo, for example: Instead of scraping and estimating, simply insert a magazine with 20 panels into an automatic machine and enjoy the results later.

Our software solutions are also primarily designed to quickly relieve the workload and make work more pleasant for skilled workers.

Have we aroused your interest? Then please feel free to contact us.

Black is not a color

Black is not a color – why Liquid Color Measurement can do the job in a better way.

What is black?

Well, before we answer that question, let’s talk about what is color? To keep it simple: When we see colors, it is because parts of the (white) light is taken away from the visible spectrum and the other part is reflected and interpreted with the help of our sensors: The human eye.

Black is the absence of light. Black pigments are best if they absorb as much light as possible. Well, there are nuances and even in blacks, shades are possible. But if we look at the light spectrum, almost no signal is reaching our eye and that’s why we see: Almost nothing.

In color measurement, you measure the spectrum of light and for these instruments, it is a hard job to interpret a signal, that is so low. This is called “signal to noise ratio”. Imagine, you are in a crowded bar and your neighbor is whispering to you. You understand: Nothing. What would you say? “Speak louder, please!”.

That’s what happens with black measurements. All measurement devices have a noise (crowded people in the bar) and that is inevitable. If the signal (“whispering neighbor”) is not high enough, the sensor (human ear) has a very hard time to interpret the signal.

There are ways to boost the signal of the black and that is something what we do with our internal algorithm. We have integrated that already in 2018 and customers are surprised to see, how precise black measurement can be carried out with our Liquid Color Measurement System.

So, what is the advantage against dry measurements? As the sensor is at high alert and even more sensitive than before, even small dust particles on the dry sample significantly influence the measurement result. In our unique setup, no dust particles can interfere with the liquid film.

That’s why Liquid Color Measurement is the perfect way of getting black paint systems, tinting pastes and raw materials under control.

By the way: Did you know, that the color red has a lot of black in it? A significant part of the spectrum has almost no signal. And guess what: We found a way to measure this precisely as well.

Interested to know more or test materials? Contact us or visit us at the European Coatings Show 2023, Booth 4-171.

If you would like even more information on the topic, feel free to read our technical article in American Caotings Tech, which you can access here.

Laboratory automation implemented quickly, flexibly and modularly

Many companies have realized: Automation helps streamline lab processes and get more done with scarce staff. But how and where to start? There are technically sophisticated solutions for running laboratories fully automatically. But this is usually very expensive and time-consuming. Existing laboratory processes have also proven themselves in the past; after all, companies don’t start from scratch. But to automate a laboratory, first tear out everything, install lots of robots, optimize for a long time, and then realize after a while that the chosen layout is too inflexible? Just to measure a small sample – no way. Money wasted, employees dissatisfied and nothing gained.

There is another way.

We at ORONTEC build small, modular measuring machines. This means that existing laboratories can be retained. Processes do not have to be completely redefined, but what was previously done laboriously by the lab technician is now done quickly and efficiently by the machine. Automation in small steps, affordable, flexible and quick to implement. And lab technicians do not become unemployed, on the contrary: Finally time for meaningful, creative work!

But for automation to work properly, there is also the issue of software. What good is it if a test is automated, but two different programs have to be operated and data has to be shifted back and forth manually. ORONTEC has developed Q-Chain® Process AI for this purpose, which simply lets the existing programs do what they do and Process AI plays the middleman. This is easier than you might think. Again, thanks to our modular software, data can flow automatically through the process in small modules and small, affordable steps.

If you want to take a look at how such automation can look in practice, take our Q-Chain® SuMo as an example.

We’ve put a two-part presentation on YouTube about it: First part: short summary in five minutes, second part: more details in ten minutes.

You would like to automate e.g. your color measurement or another measurement or test in your laboratory? Feel free to contact us – we look forward to your feedback!


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What do testing processes have to do with energy requirements in production?

We’ve heard it all too often: energy is expensive. And energy remains expensive. It is obviously part of the political course to encourage consumers and companies to save energy by keeping costs high.

Yet we afford not to take advantage of all the opportunities. Today, I would like to draw attention to a possibility that is not obvious: How do imprecise testing methods affect the energy requirements of a paint production process?

Inaccurate color strength determinations for pastes and semi-finished products, for example, have an impact on the color tone corrections of the coatings and inks produced from them. Non-optimized dispersion processes also lead to longer dispersion times or to a higher number of passages for dispersion. What does one passage cost? Or what is the cost of an hour more dispersion time?

Let’s make a few assumptions:

  • The average price of electricity in the middle class in 2022 was about 21 ct/kWh.
  • The number of batches in dispersion is 300 batches per year.
  • A bead mill with a power of 75 kW is used in the passage production.
    • Example: NETZSCH AlphA® System Discus 150
      One passage takes 8 hours.
      On average, 3 passages are carried out.
  • A basket mill with 55 kW is used in a circuit production.
    • Example: CIRCULAR BASKET MILL KBM 601-75 FU
      One batch is dispersed for 8 hours.

Passage production, the process consumes 540,000 kWh of electricity per year for 300 batches, resulting in €113,400 in electricity costs. We have already demonstrated that by optimizing the dispersion processes, 25% dispersion time would be saved, either by shorter time per passage or by reducing the number of passages. This optimization can save 28,350 euros per year.

In closed-loop production, the process consumes 132,000 kWh of electricity per year for 300 batches, resulting in electricity costs of €27,720 per year. There is considerable potential for optimization in closed-loop processes. In one extreme case, we demonstrated that dispersion at a planned time of 16 hours showed no change after only 1 hour. This is certainly not representative, so we also assume an average reduction in dispersion time of 25% here. A saving of 6,930 euros per year is then possible.

In the following production step, knowledge of exact material parameters, such as the color strength and color location of the semi-finished products, can reduce the corrections to approximately 1.

Let us assume that the agitator on the mixer has a power of 100 kW and that on average 3 corrections are carried out. Assuming a number of corrections of 3 before optimization, 150,000 kWh of electricity are consumed per year for the agitation of 1,000 batches with an agitation time of 30 minutes. A reduction by 2 corrections would therefore result in a saving of 100,000 kWh and costs of 21,000 euros per year.

The calculation does not take into account the influences of higher production capacity and fewer working hours.

We have described the path to optimized processes. There have already been several blog posts on this:

You would like to have your potentials calculated more precisely? Then contact me down below this post.

Speed up your pigment exchange!

Supply chains have become increasingly slower and unreliable over the past three years. Several global events have resulted in some cases in complete stoppages or greatly extended ocean shipments of supplies from Asia. Container transportation costs have risen dramatically and capacity is severely limited. Port loading capacities are also a limiting factor.

It is therefore not surprising that the search for alternative raw materials has become an ongoing issue for many companies in the coatings industry. The effort required to do this by conventional means places a considerable burden on the companies’ employees. Using the example of alternative pigments, we would like to illustrate how liquid color measurement can support and accelerate this process. Overall, the effort required is then reduced, relieving the burden on laboratory and production personnel.

In this context, liquid paint color measurement with the Q-Chain® LCM-Mono (single-angle instrument with 45°:0° geometry) or the Q-Chain® LCM-Gonio (3-angle instrument with 15°/45°/75° geometry) has considerable advantages because it can be used very early in the laboratory and in the production process and provides reliable results. The amount of material required for one measurement is about 30 ml and can therefore be easily generated for screening with laboratory dispersion methods.

For a comparison of different pigment types, for example, it is possible to carry out laboratory dispersions in a jar with beads and a laboratory shaker (for example Olbrich rm501sps). The pastes obtained from this do not correspond exactly to the dispersions from a bead mill. However, if the procedure remains the same, the values are readily comparable. The amount obtained is sufficient for a full tone measurement and a color strength determination.

The laboratory method can be used for rapid screening of various pigment alternatives. This can already considerably narrow down the selection of candidates. For the further steps, the behavior of the pigment under production conditions can already be learned during predispersion in production. In this way, an alternative pigment can be adapted to the original pigment in terms of color locus and color strength at a very early stage by adjusting the processing parameters or the recipe components.

“We don’t have time to deal with the method!”. This argument is often the reason to continue with the established procedure, although the amount of work is much higher. Especially for comparative measurements, such as the search for a replacement pigment, liquid paint color measurement can be a very fast and efficient means to better overcome the challenges.

A measurement needs just 3 to 4 minutes inclusive. The material amount needed for the test is approx.. 30 ml. The results with Q-Chain® LCM are repeatable and in many cases color strength value is better correlating with pigment concentration. So it is an enable to speed up your efforts of making your companies process more stable with alternative pigments.

You want to know more? Contact us now!

Do you determine the correct color strength?

There are number of methods for determining the color strength of pigment preparations. All methods have one thing in common: the color strength can only be determined in a defined mixture with white. This results from the Kubelka-Munk theory.

There are different procedures, but also different algorithms for calculation, which can lead to very different results – with fatal consequences in the further processing of the pigment preparations. Since color strength describes the coloring effect of a paste, it correlates with the concentration of the pigment. The color strength is therefore a proxy for the pigment concentration in the processed state.

However, the question arises as to which influencing factors of the individual methods provide reliable results. Deviations have a direct influence on the process and are one of the reasons why corrections are necessary in the production of color shades.

In the following, we describe a procedure that allows an objective evaluation of the methods. For this purpose, we create a concentration series around the commonly used mixing with white, in which the white portion is kept constant, and the colorant portion is varied in two steps to both lower and higher concentrations. This results in a concentration series of 5 measuring points whose colorant concentration is known. The color intensities of the 5 mixtures are now determined using the methods to be compared. The measurement results are plotted against the weighed-in concentration in each case.

In the following example of a blue pigment, the following mixtures were prepared and each measured dry with the squeegee applied (red line) and liquid with the Q-Chain® LCM-Mono (blue line). The measured color intensities are shown in the following graph:

In addition, the slopes of the straight lines are indicated in the graphic. A slope of 1 means that exactly the value corresponding to the initial weight is measured. In the example above, the liquid coating color measurement is close to the target value of 1, while the slope of the drying process is only 0.59. This means that the concentration deviation is measured incorrectly by 41%. As a result, any weighing of a recipe or any correction is also wrong. This process error is the cause of a large number of corrections.

You want to know how your own color strength determination stands? Then do the test in your plant. Download the tool from our website and do the test in your process.

Choosing the right algorithm is another aspect to consider. From a whole series of studies on mixing systems, we know that certain algorithms do not give useful results at all. Starting from the same spectrum, different calculation methods give very different values. The topic is extensive. We will write another post on this.

Do you want to know more about how you can reduce corrections in your operation? Then test the performance of your process!

Below you can download the tool after entering your eMail-Adress.

You want to know more? Write us or just give us a call!

Avoid corrections! Completely!

ISO 787-24 describes color strength as the ability of a pigment to absorb incoming light and thereby have the ability to color or darken, for example, a white color into which it is incorporated.

In practice, for a colored pigment, a batch of paste is mixed with a standard white in a defined ratio, applied and measured. A subsequent batch is processed in the same defined way. The spectra are then compared. So far, so good, if it weren’t for various basic conditions and influencing factors that make life difficult in practice.

On the one hand, there are the application methods:

  • Draw down
  • Spraying
  • Liquid color measurement, static
  • Liquid color measurement, dynamic

Problematic with the first two methods are the hiding power and gloss level and, from a process engineering point of view, the drying times. In static liquid coating color measurement, when the material is at rest during the measurement, adhesion or anti-drying effects can influence the measurement results. In all these methods, flocculation effects are common concomitants that also influence the results. In dynamic liquid paint color measurement, these effects do not have a major influence, but since it is a non-contact measurement of material in motion, the measurement distance and shear must be kept constant during the measurement. At ORONTEC, we have developed two measuring devices that enable the non-contact measurement of liquid films in a reproducible and accurate manner.

On the other hand, there are also different calculation methods:

  • Comparison of the value in the spectrum at maximum absorption.
  • Integral comparison of the area under the spectrum without weighting
  • Integral comparison of the area under the spectrum with weighting

Starting from exactly same spectrum, the differences in the results can be very different:

The example shows that not all methods deliver good results for every course of the spectra.

While similar values are displayed for the brightening power and the color strength of the “black”, the integral methods deliver very different values. Especially for the yellow paste, the deviation is very considerable. By means of mixing tests, it was confirmed that the weighted algorithm of ORONTEC delivers exactly the values that resulted in a small acceptable deviation. Completely without taking into account the color strength factors, a readjustment of the example color tone with the second set of mixing components had a deviation of dE* = 2.1. With taking into account the color strength factors of the weighted algorithm, The color difference is dE*=0.2 only.

A method to quantify the quality of the color strength determination will be content of the next blog post.

By definition, the color strength correlates directly with the concentration of a colorant. If the color strength is determined inaccurately or completely incorrectly, the result will be exactly the corrections that constitute its “hidden factory”. The method therefore has a direct influence on the commercial success of your production and your company. Anyone who measures color strength incorrectly or uses incorrectly measured values is giving money away.

In the next article, we will present a simple procedure for finding out how good your color strength method is.

You want to know more about this topic? Then follow our blog or give us a call.

Use your “hidden factory”!

Imagine being able to complete all your orders on the shop floor without corrections and on time by the specified deadline. Is this an illusion or can it become reality?

We believe it can become reality. And we also have concrete starting points and examples for this. For implementation, it is necessary to find the “hidden factory” in one’s own process.

The term hidden factory has been used since the mid-1980s. Since then, the definition has changed a few times. Therefore, I would like to briefly define the term as it is usually seen from a process optimization perspective.

From a process optimization point of view, the “hidden factory” represents the potential that cannot be used in a value-adding way due to non-value-adding steps in the established process.

Value-added steps are process steps that add value to the product in the process. This means that the product is refined by these steps and the customer is prepared to pay a higher price for it.

Non-value-added process steps are all the activities we do in our established process to bring deviating product characteristics into specification, to rearrange the flow to accommodate changing priorities, to free up equipment or machinery so that other manufacturing can be done, and so on.

Why do we do these non-value-added activities? Because we can’t do better with the resources and skills we have. This is not so much an accusation as a hint at which point you can find the entrance to use the “hidden factory”. In the following articles, we will take a closer look at the topic using the example of color tone correction and describe concrete approaches for optimizing productivity at low investment costs.

But first, let’s take a look at the coating production process:

The process diagram shows end-to-end production. This means that the production of a single batch contains all production stages from the raw material to the delivered product. Within this process chain, there is a defect propagation that leads to the first sample, which is checked in the laboratory, showing an intolerable deviation from the target values. In most cases, inadequate controls take place in the previous process steps.

The result is a process that follows the principle of “measure and correct”. Only at this point does the deviation from an ideal process become apparent. Often the number of corrections is between 4 and 6 cycles and requires between two hours and one day per cycle. This is exactly where the hidden factory lies. In practice, we are often confronted with the fact that these corrections are necessary in the end because process control at the front of the process is too time-consuming, lengthy and expensive.

In the following articles, we will take a closer look at the effects of this approach and what options there are to use the hidden factory and to come to a principle of “Measure and Control”. Having the process under control from the beginning is the way to use the “Hidden Factory”.

Want to know more, then follow our blog or give us a call.

ORONTEC at the 6th ECP – Online Partnering

International & Innovative Networking from February 16 to 18, 2022.

The ECP will take place for the sixth time in uninterrupted sequence since 2017. For two days, contacts can once again be made in a compact and concentrated manner in the proven partnering, cooperations can be initiated and the major content-related challenges of the future can be discussed, with an accompanying program: workshops, pitches, panels & networking.

Once again, SMEs will meet with large companies, investors and service providers for Business Partnering with an attractive accompanying program including keynote speeches, pitches, break-out sessions, workshops, networking and a closing panel. Several flash sessions will again allow attendees to introduce themselves in one-minute pitches, initiating informal networking.

ORONTEC is excited to participate as an innovator in digitization & automation and as an expert in colorimetry & color measurement. We take this opportunity to discuss innovative ideas and how they can be implemented, thus doing our part to help shape the industry. The networking potential of this event is great and has already proven itself for us in the past.

You are interested?

Click here for 6th ECP